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republican"I don't feel at home in the Republican Party anymore."

That's the feeling of a growing number of church-going evangelicals who feel increasingly displaced these days.

Displaced culturally, because many Christian beliefs are now seen as "extreme," such as the command to share the gospel, or the uniqueness of Jesus, or the definition of marriage.

Displaced politically, because the party that has made the greatest overtures to conservative Christians is morphing into a populist and nativist movement willing to abandon conservative principles for political gain.

Democrats who switched parties three decades ago echoed Ronald Reagan: "We didn't leave the Democratic Party; the Party left us." Many churchgoing evangelicals today share similar sentiments about the Republican Party, even if they remain reluctantly affiliated and can't countenance the rival party's platform on issues like abortion or religious freedom.

“Not At Home”

"I'm not at home in any party," a friend told me last week.

Maybe that’s a good thing.

Maybe these tumultuous times serve to remind us that the Christian faith transcends and critiques every political group. We've always said that's the case. It’s just that now we feel the weight of that truth.

To feel "not at home" should be the sentiment of every Christian in a fallen world. The fact that our sense of displacement feels so foreign may be a sign that we've felt much too "at home" in one party or another.

The Sensational vs. The Significant

The stakes of this year's election are high. Social media has transformed our political appetites. Citizens are hungry for the most recent poll, the biggest insult, and the most entertaining sound bite. The avalanche of the "news alerts" buries any opportunity to think deeply about what is taking place.

"It is all too easy to get caught up in the sensational and forget the significant," writes Os Guinness.

"Ten million ignorant assertions, even when magnified and accelerated in a hundred million tweets and 'likes,' still never add up to truth or wisdom, or what is right and good."

He's right. That's why some pundits are calling this the era of "post-truth politics," where it no longer matters if your statement is true or false, as long as you repeat it relentlessly.

Standing Out

Evangelicals cannot and must not feel at home in such a world.

  • We are to be known for honor in a world that rewards insults.
  • We are to be known for truth in a world that knows only spin.
  • We are to be known for conviction in a world that falls for charisma.

To sacrifice conviction for political power is capitulation. What does it profit us to gain the White House and lose our souls?

The Conscience of the Culture

Past leaders of conservative Christianity warned against excessive attachments to political parties. Chuck Colson warned against the Left's growing intolerance for religious liberty and the rights of conscience. But he also drew fire from the Right when he advocated prison reform. He was willing to buck the party line and be labeled "soft" on crime because he knew what needed to be done and he was willing to take a stand, no matter where the political winds were blowing.

"When the church aligns itself politically," Colson wrote, "it gives priority to the compromises and temporal successes of the political world rather than the its rightful Christian confession of eternal truth. And when the church gives up its rightful place as the conscience of the culture, the consequences for society can be horrific."

Indeed. And our culture needs a conscience.

At their national Convention in 2012, the Democrats cheered every time abortion was mentioned. Think about that. Cheers and laughter in support of violence toward the most vulnerable humans among us. That was the spirit of antichrist sweeping through the room.

At a recent debate, Republicans applauded the candidate who advocates torture and says he hopes to legalize the killing of civilian women and children who are related to terrorists. The same spirit of antichrist was in that applause.

I am not saying there is a moral equivalence between the two frontrunners or their party platforms. I'm only pointing out that the spirit of antichrist does not respect party lines. Christians who cannot resist the pull of their party's position and who neglect their conscience or betray their convictions are hiding their light under a partisan bowl.

Dissent As Loyalty

Some Christians may worry that disagreeing with their party is being disloyal. Not so. Fearing for the future of your country or party is not disloyalty, but loving concern. As G. K. Chesterton wrote:

"You have never begun to love anything until you have begun to fear for it."

Sometimes, dissent is the greatest form of patriotism.

William Wilberforce loved his country enough to expose the evils of the slave trade. Because he loved England, he wanted his country to live up to its virtues and values.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer did not betray his German heritage when he opposed the rise of Nazism. He died a truer German than Hitler could ever have hoped to be.

Our Political Society – The Church

The main reason we should not feel "at home" in a political party is because we already belong to a political society. It's called the Church. It transcends national borders and breaks down worldly barriers. There, we don't vote for a president; we bow before a King.

We should always feel in the world but not of the world, in America but not of America, in a political party but not of a political party. Embracing that tension is not weakness, but faithfulness.

So, take hope, Christian. The Church will be around long after today's empires and political parties fade away. If you want to put down roots somewhere, put them in the soil of the Church.

After all, the gates of hell are shaking not because of an election, but because of Easter.

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23 thoughts on ““I Don’t Feel At Home In the Republican Party Anymore””

  1. Curt Day says:

    I haven’t felt at home in a poltical party or group since I’ve switched from being a Conservative Republican to being an anti-Capitalist Leftist. But such a transformation also changed how at home I felt in Church too.

    WHile I can comfortable with my Socialist friends who denounce Capitalism, I cannot share the enthusiasm that some have in treating those who are conservatives as being inferior. That is simply wrong. I also can’t agree with what they say about abortion, but some actually listen to me because of the common beliefs we do have.

    And when my own church was so strongly politically conservative, I couldn’t feel at home because many of polticial convictions deal with moiral issues.

    So I understand th sentiments expressed above. But I am afraid, speaking from my own experience, that there is no political home to be found for the Christian. Rather, I think we are called to live as exiles in whatever political community our ideologies call us to. So I agree with part of the conclusion of the article. What I find disturbing is seeing how all of us in the Church can so stop our faith from influencing our political values because of other factors such as materialism and tribalism.

  2. Phillip Hardy says:

    A question for Trevin: You say that “…we already belong to a political society. It’s called the Church.” I’ve never thought of the Church in quite those terms. How would you define a “political society?” (By the way, loved the article! Thank you so much for your commitment to clearly communicate Biblical truth.)

    1. Trevin Wax says:

      I need to write more on this, Phillip. I expected someone to ask for clarification on that! If you want a good resource that builds on this idea, I heartily recommend Jonathan Leeman’s new academic work: Political Church.

      1. Phillip Hardy says:

        Thanks for the reply and for the recommended resource! I look forward to your writing more about this.

  3. Vi Brown says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on political parties, especially during this presidential election year. I am definitely in agreement with your comment: To feel “not at home” should be the sentiment of every Christian in a fallen world.

  4. Laura says:

    Great article. But to this:
    Evangelicals cannot and must not feel at home in such a world.

    We are to be known for honor in a world that rewards insults.
    We are to be known for truth in a world that knows only spin.
    We are to be known for conviction in a world that falls for charisma.

    I think we ought to add a bullet point that draws from, among other things, the parable of the sheep and the goats. If the other folks, the non-evangelicals, are the people who stand for taking care of the sick, the poor, and the stranger, that is a conviction on evangelicals.

    1. Shirley Knoll says:

      Oh I could just hug you Trevin! Your article spoke to my heart and exemplifies exactly how I feel. I have felt a growing concern for America and the direction it is taking and my heart breaks. However, I also know that God is totally aware and is totally in control. I pray daily for this nation and it’s people as I believe, without a doubt, we have chosen to ignore God’s teachings. I love your last sentence and as I “long for home” I rejoice in the fact of Easter and my hope in Him!! God Bless You Trevin and the light that you are in this world. Continue to speak Truth. Soli Dei Gloria!!

  5. Gary Archibeck says:

    From your friends over in the renewal camp, “thank you for this post – so very well said!”

  6. Steven Kopp says:

    Very well said! You’re right, I have always known this to be true, but for some reason I “know” this in a new way this election cycle.

  7. Ben M says:

    Excellent article! And it needed to be written. Why should we be anxious about getting a president who will fight for us when we already have a King who does just that?

  8. Erik Gamblin says:

    Trevin obviously felt at home when Neo-Conservatives such as Bush the II were in charge of the Republican party. So basically, if you don’t agree with attacking Iraq based on flimsy/false WMD garbage/marauding around the middle east, and loving cheap immigrant labor as much as an ancient Egyptian priest then you’re somehow “not at home in a Republican part hijacked by neo-conservatism”. Maybe Neo-Conservatives should secede and elect Bush the III as their pastor in Chief. The Bush’s will likely send Neil Bush to do their trade negotiations again, whom the Chinese plowed in with prostitutes last time, that trade deal didn’t go well but maybe if it’s given a second try… It seems to me that modern Christian establishment pastors, such as Lucado etc, have somehow come to the political revelation that being a prissy dare I say panzy somehow makes you a better leader. For example, George Washington was known for going into fits of rage, most of the founding fathers had literal gun duels, and Andrew Jackson was one of the most notorious Their political bickering was everything short of cursing each other out. , George Patton choked his soldiers sometimes and believed in reincarnation, the reality is these tough and outwardly rough people may not be perfect people or perfect for being Pastor in Chief of a Theocracy, but they were tough people that got the job done and were fighting for the right things and on the right side. I think sometimes there are better people for the job, one time I went to a non-Christian dentist who did a better job on my teeth than a Christian dentist, maybe public service is more of a service then we’d like to think, unless you want to live in a Theocracy. in my humble opinion…

  9. Erik Gamblin says:

    Case in point on neo-conservatism/Bush. The hallmark of conservatism, Americanism imo should be appointing conservative/Constitutionalist supreme court justices.. he appointed justice Roberts..who was shaky at best…and who is now consistently voting with the left/liberals and also gave us Obamacare… At least Cruz/Trump appear to have a backbone…

  10. Jonathan M says:

    After reading this, two thoughts came to mind:

    1) Substitute “job/career” for “political party” and it should be helpful for the professional clergy class to gain an understanding what all other Christians deal with, to a significantly greater degree, on a daily basis, for a generation.

    2) Being “in” and not “of” a political party (or the political process) requires the same salt and light presence by Christians as in any other sphere of life this side of glory. It is hard to argue that we’ve been either in the years leading up to this moment.

    To my brothers who work in the bubble of full time local church and denominational service who are choosing this moment to declare “There’s trouble with a capital T!”, I say, “welcome to the party.” What is currently happening in less than 35% of the GOP voting base (yes, Trump represents a minority of voters thus far) is a lagging indicator of what the laity has been dealing with, every day, increasingly, for most of the last 20-30 years. Yet, rather than triumphantly walking away, we are to be ambassadors for Christ all the more. And there’s also that pesky mandate that we provide for our families, without regard to comfort. Yes, participation in a political party is of a significantly different degree then our pursuit of occupation in a secular context…but the Scriptural command to be salt and light is not contextual for us, it is an absolute. It is hard to be salt and light in retreat.

    Yet, how effective have we been in influencing the political culture? That question kinda answers itself: not so much. For years, I’ve read excellent exhortations from some excellent Christian preachers, writers, and theologians who have asked variations on the question: “Are you a thermometer or a thermostat in the culture?”
    Looking at the political, legal culture, the answer to this question is obvious: we’ve failed by increasingly reflecting the culture rather than impacting it. We can look to our religious leadership culture for examples of this. The parties haven’t failed us. We’ve failed the parties.

    To my largely white, older, male church attending brothers, why have we accepted so little for the millions of our votes for GOP candidates once they assume office? Is government smaller and less prone to attempts to control our lives? Has our government been a stalwart defender of religious liberty? Of course not.

    To my largely minority, younger Christian brothers and sisters, how has your engagement in the Democrat party impacted the fight to save the unborn and to protect the concept of rule of law by the courts? Same answer, right?

    Let us all resolve to push the Kingdom forward in every area of our lives and not run away when the going gets difficult.

  11. Buddyroe says:

    Don’t feel at home? Well I haven’t in quite some time, not in our political culture and not even in most Churches (yes! stop the entertainment and public relations techniques already).

    However I am quite at home with the promises of scripture, especially the promises of our Lord Jesus and His heavenly kingdom.

    Get me out of this world or at the very least keep the world out of the church.

  12. JohnM says:

    “I am not saying there is a moral equivalence between the two frontrunners..”

    Really? Why not?

  13. Pants says:

    If the realization has finally dawned that, perhaps, the Church should render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and the Lord what is the Lord’s, and finally get away from God and Mammon all mixed together in a swirling miasma, then that’s probably a win for the Church.

  14. Reid says:

    And to honor, truth and conviction we can also add love, self sacrifice and humility. Very much the way of Jesus…particularly in relation to our neighbors.

  15. Tracy Langdon says:

    This is quite the article. I changed from Democrat to Republican a long while ago, then to an independent as I did not fully embrace the GOP either. I grew up in a Christian/Democratic home. That party so changed by the time I was an adult I changed registration. I do feel in limbo politically. All the posts and comments on both sides on FB and news sites are so vicious I can not stand to read any any more. So what are we to do?? no longer vote?? didn’t last time (2012).

  16. “At their national Convention in 2012, the Democrats cheered every time abortion was mentioned. ”

    Is there a link for this assertion? This seems like a very cheap shot.

    Neither the Democratic Party nor the Republican Party is the Kingdom of God. I get that. Neither can offer salvation, and neither can be seen as an ally of the Church, because the Church is Christ’s body.

    However, even though we cannot be true allies of any party and must remain faithful to God, we should still speak truth, good or bad, about a political party. Truth when they do good, and truth when they do not.

    We do not need to heighten or brighten what actually happens. Before we make a claim such as “At their national Convention in 2012, the Democrats cheered every time abortion was mentioned,” we should be very careful we have facts to support this allegation against people and a party that comprises a wide range of beliefs, and a party that includes Christians, even Evangelicals.

    As C. S. Lewis said, first we start off with calling dark gray black, then gray, then the lightest shades of gray black in order to make our enemies into the vilest creatures.

    We should not cheapen our allegiance to the Lord with claims about our opponents that cannot be confirmed.

    I highly doubt that it was every time, and that Democrats en masse cheered. It’s likely that some mentions were made, and some cheers were heard, but let’s be careful not to paint with a broad brush in order to show our bona fides about a controversial topic.

    1. Trevin Wax says:

      Not a cheap shot. It was part of the conversation in 2012, and many made mention of it. Even liberal commentator Cokie Roberts decried the alienating over-the-top cheering of abortion.

      1. So you’re going to double down on an unverified statement that “every time abortion was mentioned Democrats cheered.”


        Let’s also look at your source which quotes Cokie Roberts: “Thirty percent of Democrats are pro-life.”

        Those people cheered, too?

        You’re going to slam an entire party of people, which comprises a range of people and beliefs, including people who are “pro life”?

        This is your blog, and you can run it to the truth standards you want.

        Just don’t expect others who read you to be so careless.

        1. Trevin Wax says:

          Well, I am sure that not everyone in the Republican audience cheered Donald Trump’s affirmation and commitment to war crimes either. Certainly not everyone in the Republican party supports killing the wives and children of terrorists. But in both cases – to hear cheers go up is rightfully disturbing, and this was my point. What’s more, in the Democratic Party, one only has to look at the party platform to see how committed the DNC is to abortion rights. This is a major part of the DNC agenda, that ignores anyone in the Party who is pro-life. (Look up the statistics of pro-life Democrats in office, a number which has now dwindled to historically new lows.)

          1. I appreciate the thoughtful reply.

            My point is that we as Christians should be careful with our words lest we defame actual people in our pursuit of making a point.

            The article you like to points out that pro-life Democrats do exist (about 30% is what the article says).

            There are good Christians scattered within all political parties, Republican, Democratic, Green, Libertarian. We’re all trying to find the right balance between what our faith tells us and what our civic duty requires of us. We should consider our opponents as Americans and, where true, Christian brothers and sisters.

            We might be wrong on issues we are most passionate about, and we should approach our brothers and sisters in the spirit of humility, compassion, and reconciliation.

            You don’t have to publish this comment — I’m not trying to have the last word. I just would like to remind you that good people, Christian people, can differ on politics and still remain, together, in the Kingdom of God.

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Trevin Wax

​Trevin Wax is Bible and Reference Publisher at LifeWay Christian Resources and managing editor of The Gospel Project. You can follow him on Twitter or receive blog posts via email. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

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